Emma, 19, is a rising sophomore at Smith College in Massachusetts. She was diagnosed with moderate to severe bilateral hearing loss at birth, started wearing hearing aids at six-months-old, and attended Clarke Philadelphia at age 3. She was mainstreamed in preschool, but Clarke has been there to support her ever since. They helped explain her hearing aids and FM system to her classmates and teachers and assisted in the IEP process. Now in college, Emma works with her school’s Office of Disability Services to advocate for the accommodations she needs, explain them to her professors, and answer any questions they may have.
Emma fell in love with playwriting when Philadelphia Young Playwrights
led a workshop at her school. She was always frustrated by ‘disability
stories’ that often featured one-dimensional characters, so she set out to write a
play about this on her own terms. She had never written about her hearing loss before, so she found the task daunting* at first. Now, Emma hopes that when audiences see her play, titled What?, they leave with a deeper understanding of the experiences of people with hearing loss. Most importantly, she hopes that they laugh at her play (it is a comedy, after all) and understand that it’s okay to find humor in something like a disability, even though society often tells us otherwise.
*daunting: overwhelming or intimidating
Sophie loves shining a spotlight on amazing kids with hearing loss around the world. Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech wanted to help share Emma’s story with us. To shine a spotlight on someone you know, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!